Yes, I stayed awake for the whole game last night. If one person this morning asks me "Was it worth it?" I will murder them for 2 reasons. First, I don't even know how to answer that question. Did Bryant's homer make it worth staying up? Was the potential to watch them clinch worth my current zombie-like state? I can't begin to sufficiently answer that kind of question. Second, as I mentioned before, I am in a sleep-deprived zombie state and zombies murder, so consider yourself murdered, hypothetical person.
So yeah, the game last night was full of ups and downs (and ups and downs and ups and downs). I liked some of the things I saw. I disliked other things that I saw. I tasted vomit in the back of my throat from some of the things I saw. Let's get down to it in a structure that I decided upon this morning to be the least amount of effort on my part to write so I can get back to dreaming about eating Rick Grimes' brains.
- Holy crap, Arrieta with that moonshot! Everyone is always so quick to give Madison Bumgarner credit as the best hitting pitcher in baseball, but Arrieta actually had a better overall line this season at the plate (.262/.304/.415) than Bumgarner (.186/.268/.360) by quite a bit. Arrieta muscling up and driving a ball into the stands shouldn't surprise anyone. The fact that he did it off of Madison Bumgarner was plenty impressive though.
- Man, a whole lot of calls went the Cubs' way, none bigger than the throw that pulled Rizzo off the bag at first that somehow did not get overturned. I mean I'll take whatever breaks the Cubs can get in the playoffs, but I'm sure I could look at the 12 inch TV/VCR combo I had in college and watched the game via antenna instead of cable and still have been able to point out the inch of space between Rizzo's foot and the bag.
- Almora's catch was insane. I am going to miss Dexter Fowler like a son when he leaves Chicago, but Almora's play as a rookie that was called up a little early out of necessity has me excited about seeing what he can do over a full season. Plus, it would be great if the Cubs organization could finally develop a young, talented position player. HAHAHAHAHA JUST KIDDING WE HAVE LIKE 12 OF THEM AND I AM STILL GOING SLEEP INSANE.
- Bryant's game tying home run in the 9th inning is exactly what an MVP does in a big moment. Kris Bryant is so good and I can't wait to sign him to a 50 year deal for $3 billion.
- We should take a second and really appreciate the talented lefty difference-maker that we were able to bring onboard at the trade deadline. When someone writes a book about the 2016 Cubs, I hope there's a whole chapter about how overlooked and awesome Mike Montgomery (or MIKMON as we call him around here) is. I pray that the fact that he eventually lost the game doesn't overshadow how awesome he was last night. Yes, he's started and relieved this year so we know he can do either job, but going 4 innings out of nowhere is a really tough thing to do, and MIKMON battled through, looking pretty gassed into just his second inning of work.
- I am not second guessing Joe's use of the bullpen on the field last night (more on what I mean in a minute), because other than maybe leaving in Strop for a bit longer if possible, he played it like he should have. The unfortunate side effect is that a lot of the bullpen might be pretty spent. MIKMON won't be able to go for sure, which is unfortunate considering how many lefty bats the Giants have to use.
- Unfortunately, the guys that probably will be available tonight are the ones that I really don't want to see right now. I'll get to Chapman in a minute, but that's not all that's rotten in Denmark. Hector Rondon hasn't looked good since coming back from his injury. His velocity seems fine, so maybe it's a mechanical thing. Whatever thing it is, thing needs to get fixed.
- The one thing I will criticize a bit was Joe having multiple members of the bullpen all warm up for 7 innings before coming into the game. Now I trust that Joe knows more about bullpen management than I do, but it just seemed like Montgomery (and later Edwards Jr.) were wasting valuable pitches trying to stay loose for multiple innings. Could Montgomery have been sharp enough to make it through 5 scoreless if he didn't have to get up and sit down multiple times? Will Edwards Jr. have any ill effects from the amount of time he warmed up and didn't make it into the game?
- The Cubs left a LOOOOOOOT of men on base last night. Every opportunity to seemingly drive a steak through Bumgarner's heart was squashed. Like Smoltz said during last night's broadcast, Bumgarner's ability to grind out 5 innings was so valuable to the Giants and their (usually) terrible bullpen.
- Last night we got Bad Jake, the version of Jake that we saw a lot over his last 16 starts. And before I say anything else, I know that I'm talking about a guy who is the reigning Cy Young winner and threw a no-hitter this year. But it's exactly because we've been so spoiled by those Jakes that we can tell that something just isn't clicking with Bad Jake. I don't think any pitcher not named Kershaw could replicate Arrieta's second half of 2015, but the way Arrieta is pitching right now isn't even the Arrieta from the first half, or even 2014 Arrieta for that matter. I don't know enough about pitching to offer any detail as to what exactly is wrong, but when Jake gets out of whack, when he can't locate his fastball and looks like his mechanics are pulling him off course...there's gotta be SOMETHING that can be fixed, right?
- Aroldis Chapman was terrible last night. His command was off, much like it's been off a lot lately. Now when you throw 100+ MPH hitters tend to get themselves out so you can cover it up. But I guarantee you that the book on Chapman for any team facing the Cubs for the rest of the postseason will be "Be patient and make him actually throw strikes." The number of pitches he threw last night that were in the opposite part of the strike zone than they were called for was frightening.
- Rizzo continues to slump. I know it's not all his fault, especially on a night when he faced a million lefties, but it would be really nice to see a big game out of him tonight.
I was mad when the Cubs lost last night. I kept thinking that San Francisco is the exact team you don't want to let off the hook and the last thing you need to do in a short series is give your opponent any momentum, especially in their park. I was mad that the team wasn't able to take advantage of Kris Bryant's bring-us-back-from-the-dead home run.
But then I remembered that juuuuust about everything had to go right for the Giants last night. They had to start the guy that is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time AND rely on an abnormal amount of left handed hitters to get hits off of tough left handed pitchers (seriously, the lefty Giants were 6-for-13 against Cubs left handed pitching) AND pull every pitcher they had out of their back pocket just to scrape by us and avoid being swept. And even that was ALMOST not enough.
I like our chances tonight. I like our chances against Matt Moore. I think the Cubs can put bats on him. Let's wrap it up tonight.